Jahmayne Robin-Middleton

Finding ways to incorporate tikanga Māori into his architectural designs has been a way for Jahmayne to combine two things that are important to him.

Jahmayne Robin-Middleton with his arms folded outside a building.

Jahmayne comes from the Hawke’s Bay and his iwi affiliations are Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto, and Ngāpuhi. He is in his fifth year of a Master’s degree in Architecture at the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation.

Jahmayne says studying architecture has at times pushed him to his limits academically, but support from the University has helped him get through.

“I’ve put in some crazy hours and the workload is tough, but I’ve felt very supported through the whole process,” he says. “The University has some amazing programmes, including Te Rōpū Āwhina, which is a student mentoring programme for Māori and Pasifika students studying sciences, engineering, architecture and design. I was mentored in my first year, and am now a mentor to younger students, which is really rewarding.”

A big priority for Jahmayne when he moved to Wellington to study was finding a home away from home.

“I was in (residential hall) Weir House in my first year, which was awesome. During my first orientation I also became familiar with Te Herenga Waka Marae, so the university community quickly became my ‘whānau away from whānau’.”

Jahmayne says studying at Victoria University of Wellington has deepened his appreciation for Māori culture, and especially in design.

“More and more architects are beginning to acknowledge tikanga Māori, and you can see it being incorporated into their work. As a Māori architecture student I feel it’s important that this is being embraced.”

He says he’s inspired by some of the architecture he’s seen around Wellington.

“I’m a big fan of the Futuna Chapel in Karori, which was designed by John Scott—he embraced both the European and Māori cultures, and merged them together to create something completely unique and beautiful.”

He says the academic challenge has been worth it and he’s looking forward to what his future holds.

Jahmayne is particularly interested in working with Māori, designing projects that capture their visions and incorporate important values and tikanga such as kaitiakitanga, kotahitanga and whanaungatanga.

“I think it’s important for Māori to be represented in the architecture profession—that will help ensure that tikanga Māori continues to be an important feature of New Zealand’s architecture into the future.”